Weaver v. Taylor in November MSC contest? Nutty speculation points to painful truth

Picture this: Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver resigns from the court. Weaver then announces her candidacy to regain a seat on the court by butting heads with Chief Justice Clifford Taylor in the November election.

This “would have been one heck of a battle between two jurists who are not, shall we say, the best of friends,” writes veteran Capitol newshound and pundit Tim Skubick in today’s Lansing State Journal.

The unattributed scenario Skubick offers is, of course, punditry fever-dreaming at its best. And, Skubick says, when Weaver was asked about it, she said the thought never crossed her mind and labeled it as “laughable.”

Meanwhile, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer and his minions continue the hunt for a Democratic candidate to face Taylor this fall.

A couple of weeks ago, Brewer appeared on Skubick’s public television “Off the Record” program to face an all-star reporters’ panel: Bill Ballenger of Inside Michigan Politics; Kathy Barks Hoffman of The Associated Press and Charlie Cain of The Detroit News. (Broadcast available here. Brewer’s segment starts about 15 minutes into the program).

Ballenger put Brewer right on the hot seat by declaring that Brewer’s biggest problem was that his party didn’t have a candidate, that the only two folks who could beat Taylor, Governor Jennifer Granholm and former Governor Jim Blanchard, weren’t running, and, as a result, Brewer was reduced to the strategy of painting Taylor as a villain.

It was almost painful to watch Brewer meekly respond that he was “very close” to naming a candidate. Since then, Brewer says a candidate has been selected, he’s just not saying who, just yet.

Skubick says Brewer’s candidate could be

“Marietta Robinson, a private lawyer from Oakland County who took on Taylor once before and lost. She has a long list of demands for her candidacy, but as one insider put it, ‘She would give Cliff heartburn.’ The governor’s office would be comfortable with Robinson, too.”

We’ll see.

If this year’s supreme court race were a sporting event, “Dandy” Don Meredith of Monday Night Football fame might describe it like this: “Time ticking away late in the fourth quarter. Democrats down by six with the ball on their own 20. Third down and a mile to go.”

It’s time to snap the ball, Mr. Brewer.

Why are we not surprised? Detroit mayor vetoes ouster resolution

Both of Detroit’s major dailies, The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News are reporting this morning that Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has vetoed the city council’s resolution asking Governor Jennifer Granholm to remove him from office.

The mayor’s veto message warns that removing elected officials is “irresponsible” and thwarts the will of the voters. Kilpatrick claims the council can remove him only if he’s convicted of a felony or lacks qualification to serve in office.

The initial responses from attorney William Goodman, retained by the city council to investigate the text-message scandal, to Kilpatrick’s veto message arguments: “brainless” (Detroit News) and “lunacy” (Detroit Free Press).

“[I]t’s an inherently preposterous concept that the mayor would have the power to veto the outcome of a City Council investigation (into him),” fumed Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel.

“The veto message speaks for itself,” says Kilpatrick spokesman James Canning.

Today is ‘Cliche Awards Day’

Let the ceremony begin!

The “Locking The Barn Door After The Horse Is Gone” trophy is awarded to Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick for his new policy directive, released yesterday, which decreed that the text messages and other communications on telephone, text devices and pagers issued to city employees are private.

An attractive “Wouldn’t Touch It With A 10-Foot Pole” certificate is presented to the many county prosecutors who have declined the invitation of Kim Warren Eddie of the State Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council to investigate allegations that the head of the Wayne County prosecutor’s drug unit lied to jurors and allowed two cops to lie as well to obtain a conviction in a cocaine case. The situation is “complicated,” says Eddie.

The “Comforts Of Indoor Plumbing” plaque goes to the 42-2 District Court in New Baltimore, which will open for business Monday in a new, $7.5 million courthouse, complete with its own restroom facilities. The old building didn’t have any.

The “Mind Your Own Business” medallion is being presented by the state House of Representatives to Michigan employers who seek to control their employees’ legal, off-premises activities. A package of bills has cleared the lower chamber that would prevent, among other things, employers from firing or refusing to hire smokers, skydivers and motorcycle racers.

The “Fear And Loathing” award is bestowed upon Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis, who is speculating that Kalamazoo-based billionaire Jon Stryker is preparing to spend some significant cash to oust Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford Taylor in November.

And last, but not least, the “Fish Or Cut Bait” loving cup is awarded to Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer, who is talking a mean game against Taylor but, so far, has not revealed his party’s MSC candidate.

Bar exam scoring could change, increased fees possible

If you’re finishing up law school later this year, and you’re one of those folks who do well on objective-style tests but come unglued when a blank bluebook is in front of you, you’re not going to be happy with a possible change in the way the Michigan bar examination is scored.

Under a policy change being pushed by the Michigan Board of Law Examiners, beginning with the February 2009 bar exam, there won’t be any more bragging about passing solely because you had a hot score on the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE).

The examiners have decided that the graders they hire should read everyone’s essays, not just the ones of those who didn’t score 150 or better on the MBE.

The board explains:

“In order to assure consistency in the level of difficulty of Michigan bar examination essay questions from one examination to another, and thereby to more accurately assess whether applicants have attained the level of competence in the law necessary for the protection of the public, the Board of Law Examiners has determined to scale the essay examination scores to the scoring of the Multistate Bar Examination. To do this, the Board has determined that it is necessary to eliminate the practice of not grading the essay answers of applicants obtaining a threshold score on the MBE.”

This is not set in stone. The policy change, according to Timothy Raubinger, the Assistant Secretary of the State Board of Law Examiners, is “contingent” on the Michigan Supreme Court adopting a proposed change to Rule 6 of the Rules for the Board of Law Examiners. The proposed change would bump the exam fee to $340 from the current $300. A re-examination would cost $240.

The staff comment to the proposal states that the “proposed increase in fees would allow for the implementation of the change in policy regarding grading Michigan bar examinations that is reflected in the attached notice.”

Translation: there’s going to be more stuff to read and somebody has to pay for it.

As with all proposed rule amendments, “[t]he Court welcomes the views of all.” And, says the MSC, “[p]ublication of this proposal does not mean that the Court will issue an order on the subject, nor does it imply probable adoption of the proposal in its present form.”

But if you like to plan ahead, consider this boldface statement from the court:

“Please note that if this matter proceeds in the ordinary course by publication followed by consideration at a public hearing to be held later this year, and if the Court adopts this proposal, the fee increase would be effective for applicants taking the February 2009 bar examination.”

The comment period is open until Aug. 31.

Follow the link above for information about how submit a comment to the court. And don’t forget to click the comment link below if you’re in the mood to sound off.

Western District considers pleading amendments in Social Security cases

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan is thinking about adding some special requirements to its local rules for pleadings in Social Security benefits cases.

The proposed amendments would require specific information about the type of benefit claimed, along with Social Security number of the wage earner on whose record the application for benefits was filed. Claims for supplemental security income benefits would require the plaintiff’s Social Security number.

And the court is also considering this requirement:

Except in cases brought by a pro se plaintiff, a responsive pleading under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(b) shall recite verbatim that paragraph of the pleading to which it is responsive, followed by the response.

The court is inviting comments on the proposed amendments. Click here for the full text of the proposed amendments, and for information on how to submit comments.

Eastern District Bankruptcy Court: Amended rules, new forms and changed procedures

When it comes to cyberspace and electronic filings, they’re always fine-tuning things at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

If you practice in that court, you’ll want to have a look at the most recent amendments to the court’s local rules. With the amendments, there are new forms to contend with, and some changes in the court’s Administrative Procedures for Electronic Case Filing.

And, if a judge takes a matter under advisement and requests additional pleadings, there are some new ECF Events that must be used.